How can we transform a normal TV, equipped with an HDMI port, into a smart TV? Using a simple Raspberry Pi 2 plus some other hardware components together with a free player software originally called XBMC, now renamed as KODI.
What software we use?
The proposed software is called KODI, originally called XBMC. It is a free and open source (GPL) multimedia player software that can be installed both on desktops with Windows, Linux, Mac, mobiles running iOS or Android and embedded devices, such as in our case Raspberry Pi. The Raspberry Pi platform port is provided by OpenElec.
Home page of KODI interface
As the functionality, KODI allows playback of most video and audio formats, images and streams from the local network or the internet, enables the installation of various extensions either downloaded or user-created.
KODI allows playback of most songs in mp3, flac, wav and wma.
KODI can also play most video formats, so those off-line and stream sites online
You can see and images using KODI
A more detailed description can be found at kodi.tv/about
Why we need hardware?
A Raspberry Pi 2, a metal or plastic housing, a micro USB cable and a HDMI, a micro SD card 4 GB minimum, a kit consisting of remote control and receiver, and if the TV set does not have a USB port capable of supplying 1A, add also a mains to USB adapter.
The main hardware component of this media player is the Raspberry Pi 2 board. Briefly, its specs are: a quad core ARM Cortex A7 processor at 900 MHz, 1 GB of RAM, ethernet network interface 10/100Mbit, 4 USB ports. So, it is just good for a multimedia player with a low power consumption (< 5W).
Remote control and receiver
Raspberry Pi 2
How do we do this?
Assuming using of Windows as the operating system, we need the image OpenElec and Win32DiskImager needed to write the image on the SD card. We can use 7zip to unpack.
Download the correct version of the image – RPi2 ARMv7 – from OpenElec website, extract the .img file using 7zip application then write it on the SD card using the Win32DiskImager. Pay attention to the selected drive otherwise the existing data on the card could be lost forever!
After finishing the writing, use the eject function of your operating system before extracting the card from the reader.
Mount the Pi into the housing, then insert the micro SD into its slot and HDMI cable to the TV. In one of the USB ports of the Pi put the remote’s receiver, next have an USB thumb drive with a few media files into another USB port on Pi. Switch the TV to HDMI port, then power on the Pi using micro USB.
At first startup, the system OpenElec will do some settings then will reboot. After restart you will see starting a wizard for initial settings and then the player is good to use. Because RPi2 is not equipped with real time clock, it is recommended to have a cable connected to the internet in order to be able to synchronize with the time server. You can also use a USB WiFi adapter, but are slightly more complicated settings.
For more information about the settings and use interface, visit kodi.tv.
Remote control and receiver are type HP RC6 (keywords: HP RC6 MCE USB IR)
More information on compatible remotes are here.
If you have problems in acquiring a remote control, instead you can use a smartphone with Android or iOS, installing the appropriate application.
Android app iOS app